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      First documented predation of a Baird’s tapir by a jaguar in the Calakmul region, Mexico

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      Neotropical Biology and Conservation

      Pensoft Publishers

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          Abstract

          To date, records of predation on Baird’s tapir (Tapirus bairdii) by jaguars (Panthera onca) were anecdotal and did not allow for differentiation regarding whether the animal had been preyed upon or scavenged. Here, we present the first documented event of predation on a Baird’s tapir by a jaguar in the Calakmul region, Campeche, Mexico. In August 2017, we observed a jaguar eating a juvenile female Baird’s tapir; when we analysed the skull, we observed the characteristic “lethal bite” with which jaguars kill their prey by piercing the temporal and parietal bones with their canine teeth. Jaguars select to attack tapirs when they are most vulnerable (young or sick). Records of these type of events are important for understanding the food webs and ecology of these iconic Neotropical species that inhabit the Mesoamerican forests.

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          Most cited references 19

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          Jaguars, pumas, their prey base, and cattle ranching: ecological interpretations of a management problem

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            Food habits of jaguars and pumas in Jalisco, Mexico

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              Frugivory and seed dispersal by tapirs: an insight on their ecological role.

              Tapirs are one of the last extant megafauna species that survived the Pleistocene extinctions. Given their size and digestive system characteristics, tapirs might be the last potential seed disperser of plant species that were previously dispersed by other large mammal species that are now extinct. We compiled evidence from 39 published scientific studies showing that tapirs have a key role as seed dispersers and seed predators. Tapirs play an important role either through seed predation or by facilitating the recruitment of seeds over long distances, therefore influencing the diversity of plant species in the ecosystem. Neotropical tapirs might have a unique role as long-distance seed dispersers of large seeds (<20 mm) because they are capable of depositing viable large seeds in favorable places for germination that even large-bodied primates cannot disperse. Given the high diversity of seed species found in tapir diet, more information is needed on the identification of seed traits that allow the survival of seeds in the tapir's gut. Moreover, further studies are necessary on the role of tapirs as seed dispersers and predators; in particular considering spatial patterns of dispersed seeds, seed viability, effect of dung, and seed density in tapir latrines, and the effect of deposition sites on germination and seedling survival. Because all tapir species are highly threatened, it is paramount to identify gaps in our knowledge on the ecological role of tapirs and, in particular, on critical and endangered plant-tapir interactions to avoid possible trophic cascading effects on ecosystem function. © 2012 Wiley Publishing Asia Pty Ltd, ISZS and IOZ/CAS.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Neotropical Biology and Conservation
                NBC
                Pensoft Publishers
                2236-3777
                October 09 2020
                October 09 2020
                : 15
                : 4
                : 453-461
                Article
                10.3897/neotropical.15.e57029
                © 2020

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